Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hoard of the Dragon Queen: First Impressions

When I picked up the Player's Handbook (must remember that there is an apostrophe and where it goes) I also impulsively got Hoard of the Dragon Queen. In part because I felt a little bad since he had sold out of PHs (must remember it hasn't been a PhB since 2nd edition) in 15 minutes and there was a stack of the adventure sitting there, and also because I didn't have the option to buy an extra PH for a friend or two.

Anyway, this thing is beautiful, but more minimalist than the PH. The pages are heavier than the PH and matte. I like it. It looks like we get art for each of the major NPCs, and a number of encounters. The art is pretty coherent, and seems to be less "heroic" or "anime" than 4e was. The ladies (and gents) even seem to be wearing practical clothing. Apparently, however, the nice map at the beginning has some typos in the place names; I'm not familiar enough with the Realms to really say much about that though. Also, the nice map at the beginning looks like a nice player prop except the names on the map seem very modern with their precise dots and all.

Its a Forgotten Realms adventure. It mentions that you can adapt it to another setting, but gives no advice for doing it. Which is a shame. Also there's no quick sidebar of locations and organizations that would need to be translated, making it much less likely that such a transplant would actually happen. Though I suppose the internet might facilitate how you'd transplant things to Greyhawk or Dragonlance or some other setting.

Appendix A is amazing. The other appendices are useful (stats for NPCs, items, etc.) but Appendix A has hooks and bonds. You can start your character off with a randomly rolled bond (or chosen, obviously) and some alternate background benefits (cult infiltrator or scholar of dragons). This is especially useful since the adventure is intended to take you up through about level 7, and presumably the second part will probably still take you up past 10 or 12 if not close to 15. In this way, it's similar to a Paizo adventure path a bit with specific regional feats and/or class archetypes. Subtle, but really nice. Its the sort of thing that every campaign ought to steal, along with low-level adventures. I'm not sure if it'd be useful for non-starter characters, but that's what the old rumor tables tended to do: give you a hook into the adventure.

There's an online supplement that includes the monsters, magic items, and spells needed to run the thing. This is presumably needed since these things are in the PH, DMG, and MM and they want to let people play the adventure with just the basic rules. Nice, but the font is atrocious. Seriously. I first noticed that the letters seemed to alternate sizes in the italics for spell descriptions, but it carries through to most of the text. This isn't a problem in the Basic rules though. Conversely, you can cut and paste from the Hoard supplement. The Basic rules seems to have some copy protection on it such that you get those little tofu blocks instead of most of the body text. Making it hard for a player to do a cut and paste job to create their own convenient spellbook. Oh well. But the font is awful. I cannot mention that enough.

How about the content of the adventure? I haven't plowed through all of that. It looks decent, though I'm not sure how well it'd translate outside of the Realms, though I suppose you can just run it as a generic fantasy world and ignore all the novels and past history of the setting with ease. Honestly, I think that's part of my biggest beef with the Realms, besides it just seems like a generic fantasy world. But hey, it's one of the original generic worlds!

So overall, just looking at the format of the thing, I like what I see. 

No comments:

Post a Comment